“You! Looking down at your life from the Sweet Valley High.
Can you be proud of yourself? — Are you proud of yourself? — Drilling, drilling down into the cheap plastickated transparented laminate of your wood-effect life,
— Your life! Your life, full of Dulux Brilliant White and £5 per square metre kitchen tiling ,can you be proud of yourself, with your life, your half-defined life, your life of sweet-lemon odour and shallows in the thing you call life?”
I’m no good at poetry, but it’s always good to beat someone at the thing they’re best at.
I’m on stage at a poetry slam, less than five klicks from my home and yet a million miles away, yelling into a mike against a black competitor. We’re facing each other and the vibe is good. He’s yelling, I’m yelling, Triple-A in the doldrums of Deptford, different poems in different pentameter yet the respect – big R – is obvious. It’s like rap without all the horrible noise. Or black people.
OK, there are a lot of black people here, but it’s not a black event; no racial taking-sides evident in the rows. The top prize is just £100. I can’t win here. He is fighting for his honour; I’m merely fighting for my dinner. The point here is not to create great poetry; it’s merely to keep going, to keep your meter against your opponent and not falter in the halting meter of failure. Maybe I can get post-ironic here.
“You’re facing the London Wall and it’s not like you’re heading for the Museum. It’s nine hundred years and you see fit to defy it, to think you 2000s culture and your white-vibe similarity hits the spot that proves the fact that melted down.
You’re standing, standing it the spot where you think it failed, the spot where you gave up. The SPOT where you let it all go, let Socialist, white Socialist guilt take over from your righteous pride, turned the vibe from being proud into being proud just to TAKE IT. Take, take, take, when the bumptious vibe spread into secrets, we’ve got agents for all the bloom…”
OK, there’s a lot of beer flowing by now. But there’s a roar. I’ve got some brave friends here.
(To be continued. Because there’s just too much beer flowing tonight.)